Goddess Isis in temple of Dakka

Goddess Isis

Isis is one of the famous goddesses in ancient Egypt. She was goddess of fertility, motherhood, magic, death, healing and rebirth. Isis came from a divine family. She was the first daughter of Geb, the god of earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky. Isis was married to her brother Osiris, and gave birth to god Horus.

Isis’ divine position in ancient Egypt

Goddess Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth. There, Isis lacked her own dedicated temples and ancient Egyptians worshiped her among other deities. She played a limited role in royal rituals and temple rites, although she was more prominent in funerary practices and magical texts. Gradually, she grew in importance, until she became one of the most important deities of ancient Egypt.

Starting from the New Kingdom, Osiris and Isis became the most widely worshiped of Egyptian deities, and Isis absorbed characteristics from many other goddesses. A major event has happened during this period that it witnessed building dedicated temples for Osiris and Isis in Egypt as well as in Nubia.

Goddess Isis came to its most wide reputation during the Hellenistic period (323–30 BCE). There, Greeks and Egyptians worshiped her, along with a new god, Serapis. Her cult spread throughout the Roman Empire, and Isis was worshiped in the area from England to Afghanistan.

Isis’ dedicated temples

With the spread of Isis’ reputation, some temples were dedicated to her cult. The first major temple was built by the Late Period king Nectanebo II (360–343 BCE) at Behbeit el-Hagar, in the central Nile delta. Other temples dedicated to her cult, were built during the Greco-Roman Period, including the island temple of Philae.